The fun of podcasting is that it’s a radio show that is owned by you. You get to decide the name, the format, how regularly the show is on and who gets on the show.
Most podcasts fit into one of three main types of format – the creation of shows based around an interview, or solo shows – or co-hosted shows. Let’s dig into each of them and break down what makes them work – or not.
#1 Guest Show: So you’re an interviewer to the stars
This is easily the most popular podcasting format. It’s easy to find guests, it’s easy to create your content and it’s also a great way to build your brand as you get more confident as the facilitator of a quality conversation.
Just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s simple or easy to create excellent high quality content. Key aspects to consider are:
Curation: Bringing on quality guests to your show that have an interesting and valuable story to tell which is ultimately going to benefit or solve a problem for your ideal listener. Often people think this is big names and that is not necessarily true. At the same time, “everyday” people who have never been on a podcast before may not always be the best interview guests just because there’s a bit of technique to being a good guest – the ability to summarise your story, pull key learnings out of your experience and be generous and entertaining all at once.
Interview technique: You need to determine the type of interviews you want to host, and your style as an interviewer. Will you ask the same questions every time? Will you give those questions in advance so that guests can prepare? If you want facts, and tactics, your questions will need to be more specific and you may need to dig deeper and summarise guest responses. If your goal is to share someone’s story, open-ended questions that touch on how people felt, what they thought, what they did and how they feel now looking back, will be important.
My personal preference is interviews that flow like a conversation, with a quality host who facilitates a great conversation – knows when to dig further, and when to move on to a new subject. Because I listen to a lot of business related podcasts, I have found it quite a challenge to find a great interviewer who can have a free form conversation and still glean excellent value and depth of business strategy from their guest. Some great examples are Tim Reid, Amanda Cook (Wellpreneur) and the Being Boss ladies (a co-hosted interview show).
#2 Solo Show: So you’re the legend in your own lunchbox
Solo shows are a great way to build your absolute authority and expertise on a topic – but gosh, you’d want to be good! Key aspects to consider if you’re committed to conducting solo shows are:
Length: If you’re asking people to listen to you week in and week out, you may want to go with a shorter, pithier length. Nathalie Lussier and Carrie Green both have podcasts which are short, bite-sized pieces of business wisdom – around the ten minute mark. Easily consumed on a short trip to the shops to get milk!
Format: Solo shows often work best when you can create a clear structure that is easy to understand and follow despite having no visual cues. Amy Porterfield delivers solo shows in the form of training, where she will walk through a launch process or a project plan in a step by step process. She’s particularly good at it, even though at first glance you’d think the content would work better as a visual. But she is pretty amazing fullstop.
Another structure that can work quite well is the traditional “list” structure, where you might provide the 3 tweaks you need to make to your website right now, or the 5 things you wish you’d known before you started blogging. It sets a beautiful structure and expectation for your audience of what they’ll get in the episode and where they’re at in the episode.
Who does this well? Amy Porterfield (Online Marketing Made Easy), Seth Godin (Startup School), Alex Blumberg (Startup Podcast)
#3 Co-Host Show: Sharing the Love
Secret reveal. I wanted to start a co-hosted show when I launched my podcast – someone to share the highs, the lows and the fears with. But I didn’t have a network then – so I started on my own. And in retrospect I’m really glad I did, as it’s been able to evolve with my business rather than someone else’s. I still have a dream of bringing on a co-host for some shows, and I’m sure this will happen in the coming months.
The co-host format can be fantastic because it provides an opportunity to not need to source interview guests regularly, but still bring multiple stories and diverse views to the table. Things to consider if you’re on the co-hosting path:
Number of Hosts: I have seen one podcast work really well that had a large number of co-hosts and that’s Beers, Blokes, Biz – which is not as awful and blokey as it sounds! The number of co-hosts varies every episode from 2 up to 5 or 6 and often a guest is thrown in as well. But there is a clear lead host who facilitates and keeps things moving and not escalating to mayhem. I’m impressed with how well it works to be honest, because on paper it sounds like a nightmare.
The number of hosts will also depend on how you plan to record (ie. Are you all together in person or over technology), the purpose of the show, the length and what each host is getting from participating.
The most common co-hosted arrangement is a pair of co-hosts (Being Boss, She Podcasts for example) and that works really well when there’s an incredible relationship between the co-hosts, as eavesdropping on that is half of the fun. Three co-hosts can also work really well – Up for a Chat does this particularly well. Keep in mind – the more hosts – the harder to organize and for individuals to stand out from the crowd.
Hot Tip: Do the Mish Mash
The great thing about podcasting is you make the rules for your show. So you could include aspects of all of these formats into your show.
If you currently have an interview show, I’d challenge you to try doing a solo show, or bringing on a co-host as an experiment and see how it goes.